Embattled Yemen leader offers to go within year

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, March 21, 2011. AP

A spokesman for President Ali Abdullah Saleh says the Yemeni leader is willing to step down by the end of the year as part of a "constitutional" transfer of power.

Ahmed al-Sufi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Saleh informed senior Yemeni officials, military commanders and tribal leaders of his intention in meetings on Monday night.

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He said the president also vowed never to hand over power to the military.

Saleh's comments are a reversal of his rejection earlier this month of an opposition proposal demanding his resignation by the year's end.

It is not clear whether the opposition movement calling for Saleh's ouster will accept his latest offer, especially after his security forces shot dead more than 40 protesters on Friday.

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